By: Joe Murray
A bi-partisan coalition of Pennsylvania lawmakers wants to send a clear message to any municipalities contemplating sanctuary ordinances protecting illegal immigrants from deportation and immigration authorities: Not in Pennsylvania.
State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, along with Reps. Tom Creighton, Mark Mustio, and Scott Perry, introduced two pieces of legislation geared at punishing any Pennsylvania municipality that enacts ordinances making the city a "sanctuary city." Sanctuary cities have long been a sticking point in the debate over illegal immigration and many of the former Republican presidential candidates, such as Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), vehemently sought to combat sanctuary cities.
Such cities usually attempt to protect illegal immigrants, thus providing them sanctuary, by enacting ordinances or policies that impede the enforcement of federal immigration law. An example of such a law would be a ban on police officers inquiring into a person's immigration status.
"Let us never forget that every illegal alien's very first step across our borders is a violation of our federal immigration laws which makes them foreign invaders," Mr. Metcalfe said.
"Therefore, the only right they have as non-American citizens is to go home on their own or face incarceration, deportation, and at the very least, criminal prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. Establishing a zero-tolerance policy against illegal alien invaders and especially any government entity who harbors them remains our foremost and most effective defenses against global terrorism, infectious diseases and importing even more third world poverty."
Under Mr. Metcalfe's legislation, the state would establish a review system for investigating complaints that a municipality has either adopted, by law or habit, policies protecting illegal immigrants. Upon finding a sanctuary city exists, the state would place in escrow any state funds going to the sanctuary city until 30 days after ordinances or policies that created the sanctuary status are scrapped.
Essential funding for municipalities, such as funding for law enforcement or corrections, the operation of courts, emergency preparedness or disaster response, and medical services, would not be disturbed.
Municipalities that refuse to end sanctuary policies, however, will also face civil liability for the injuries and damages caused by illegal immigrants.
The two additional measures are a part of Mr. Metcalfe's larger legislative agenda, dubbed National Security Begins at Home, to combat illegal immigration.
The National Security Begins at Home legislation, previously introduced, includes bills that would that would: (i) require mandatory employer enrollment in the federal security basic pilot new employee verification program; (ii) increase cooperation between local, state and federal law enforcement; (iii) maintain criminal history records of illegal immigrants previously detained; (iv) punish employers of illegals by terminating their professional license; and (v) eliminate all non-medical emergency, public benefits for illegals.
"Simply put, there should be no economic rewards, public benefits or employment privileges for anyone who is guilty of breaking our nation's immigration laws," said Mr. Mustio.
There are no sanctuary cities in Pennsylvania to date, but Mr. Metcalfe pointed out 2006 attempts by Allentown and York to pass sanctuary ordinances.
Nationally, there are a number of high profile cities that have come under scrutiny for their sanctuary policies. Such cities include, Washington, D.C.; New York City; Los Angeles; Chicago; San Francisco; Santa Ana; San Diego; Salt Lake City; Phoenix; Dallas; Houston; Austin; Detroit; Jersey City; Minneapolis; Miami; Denver; Baltimore; Seattle; Portland, Oregon; New Haven, Connecticut; and Portland, Maine.